Source: Syracuse University New research demonstrates that ammonium was a vital source of nitrogen for early life on Earth.
Life on Earth relies on the availability of critical elements such as nitrogen and phosphorus
These nutrient elements are ubiquitous to all life, as they are required for the formation of DNA, the blueprints of life, and proteins, the machinery.
They are originally sourced from rocks and the atmosphere, so their availability to life has fluctuated alongside significant changes in the chemistry of Earth's surface environments over geologic time.
New research, reveals how the supply of these elements directly impacted the growth of Earth's oxygen-rich atmosphere and were key to the evolution of early life on Earth.
The most dramatic change in Earth history followed the evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis, which fundamentally transformed the planet by providing a source of carbon to the biosphere and a source of oxygen to the atmosphere, the latter culminating in the Great Oxidation Event (GOE) some 2.3 billion years ago.